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Reynolds's Newspaper (London, England), Sunday, November 25, 1877; Issue 1424.


The two-act comic opera, with the above title, by Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan, is one of the best entertainments of the kind that has yet been placed on the stage. It completely throws most of the, comparatively speaking, vapid productions of Offenbach, Lecocq, Hervé, &c., into the shade. If we had more such pieces, there would be no necessity to beg, borrow, or steal from the French, but the tables would be turned, and our dramatic exports far exceed our imports.

The following is an outline of the plot:– A young Guardsman of a very sentimental turn, the son of a baronet, is about marrying the daughter of a highly aristocratic lady, and he believes the marriage state is the only one wherein true happiness can be found. Desirous of making all his fellow creatures happy by loving one another, never mind the differences of age, position, &c., he purchases a love-potion from one John Wellington Wells, a necromancer, and administers it indiscriminately to his friends and acquaintances in the village. A ludicrous amount of love making ensues. Aged bachelors are united with juvenile spinsters and vice versa. A starch and stately old baronet is mated with an elderly pew-opener. Her pretty daughter entraps a deaf old notary, and the magnificent Lady Sangazure, the horror of the necromancer, fixes herself upon him; and to crown the whole, Aline, who has also partaken of the potion, transfers her affection from Alexis to the elderly vicar. Alexis is in despair, and consults the wizard as to how things are to be set aright. He assures him that nothing but the sacrifice of either of their lives will destroy the effect of the potion, and professes his own, willingness to wear the crown of martyrdom, only the firm for which he travels "takes stock next week, and it would not be fair on the company." Ultimately, however, he accepts the situation, and descends, like Don Giovanni in the opera, through a trap to the regions below amidst a blaze of red fire. Things are then rearranged, and matters go on smoothly to the end.

This farcical story is told in close and pungent dialogue, and the accompanying music is singularly tuneful, sprightly, and appropriate. Some of the songs, both as regards words and music, are patterns of burlesque writing, and sure to become very popular.

All the characters are perfectly performed, every actor and actress entering fully into the spirit of their parts:– Mr. Temple, as the baronet; Mr. Bentham, his son; Mr. Barrington, the vicar; Mr. G. Grossmith, jun., the wizard; Miss A. May, Alice (sic); Miss Everard, the pew-opener; and Miss G. Warwick, her daughter. The singing of Misses May and Warwick, and that of Mr. Grossmith, together with his really excellent comic acting, contributed in no slight degree to the great success the piece achieved. Mr. Grossmith's debut upon the regular stage as the necromancer was a decided hit, and we strongly suspect that besides being one of the most popular humorists, he will become one of the best comic actors of the day. The band and chorus are small but good, and the scenery bright and pretty.

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